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Arguing for Alliteration

Dearest INDY Readers,

After Claire Tsui’s brilliant psychoanalysis of email sign-offs in our green issue last semester (See: A Highly Scientific Psychoanalysis of Email Sign-Offs, Indy Vol. 29, pg.15) we’re ready to leap into the linguistic labyrinth once again. 

This time, we’re considering the viability of reintegrating the alliterative tradition into mainstream social interaction. 

To explore the practical applications of such a revival, let’s focus our gaze on a specific case study: How might the revival of the alliterative tradition influence digital communication amongst our collegiate crowd? 

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of taking Professor Bump’s History of Literature, Media, and Culture course, here is a brief introduction to the alliterative style. 

The alliterative tradition flourished during the Anglo-Saxon period, suffered a brief hiatus during the Norman period, and finally made its way back to the formal forefront in the fourteenth century. During the Alliterative Age, each line of text was meticulously and masterfully crafted so that the initial sound of each word in a given line would match, creating constant aural satisfaction rivaling well-executed ASMR videos. 

Image Credit: Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images

Now this historical snapshot provides context, of course, but more importantly, my dear readers, it serves as an important reminder of the style itself’s perseverance. Just like our favorite early 2000s Disney mom turned right-wing conspiracy theorist, Leigh Allen Baker, has risen from the ashes to haunt my Instagram feed, the Alliterative Age is ripe and ready for its renaissance.  

But why should we journey back in our linguist lineage in the first place? 

The answer? Talking stages. 

To start with the big picture, bringing back this complex literary tradition would force your talking stage to really think about their communication with you. Alliterative writing requires conscious effort, attention to detail, and perhaps a dictionary for inspiration. 

On a more granular level, these are some examples of texting interactions that would NOT occur were the alliterative style reinstated:

“wanna link?” 

“link up?”

“what’s good?”

“what’s the move?”

“u free rn?” 





“pull up,” (or “pu” as a beautifully concise alternative)

“sum tn?” 

And other equally eloquent variations which are inevitably followed by a gracious “lmk” 

(note: all grammatical errors are intentional to convey the reality of these conversations)

Now, if Johnny the Jock still manages to send you an obnoxious text, at least it would sound something like this:

“Petunia, you have purloined my pulsating heart; perhaps, pertaining to your preference and pleasure, we pipe?” 

“Beatrice, your brilliance during our bowling match was breathtaking, bang?” 

“Fiona, I find you fantastic, f*** Friday?”

It should be noted that, unfortunately, even re-establishing this tradition cannot save the countless victims of the infamous “u up?” text, so we send our condolences.


Marina Gallozzi is a freshman in the College majoring in Italian and English! She loves photography and Fiona Apple, and she has a concerningly committed relationship with the game Candy Crush.


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